Letters to the Editor, October 20, 2012
Rethink flawed move to evict Montessori
My family has been anxious about recent developments relating to the International Montessori School ("Parents fight to halt school relocation", October 8).
My children like the school very much. My elder daughter joined last September and my younger son started there last month.
In the past 13 months, we have found the teachers there to be incredibly passionate about their jobs and my children are fond of the cosy campus.
This is a school which has poured its heart and soul into education and which has shown children and parents the meaning of the Montessori philosophy.
This philosophy aims to enable each child to develop his or her own individual gifts and talents within a caring, supportive and respectful dual-language learning environment.
It is a great institution and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an international school in Hong Kong. However, we are obviously concerned about the "destructive" plan to evict Montessori from Tin Hau to make way for a youth hostel.
It is one of the few English and Putonghua bilingual international schools in Hong Kong and it should be supported by the government and allocated more sites to meet the very high demand for international school places.
However, it seems that the administration tends to improve one social problem (providing Hong Kong young people with a place to stay) by forcing out a school which is functioning well.
It is the only international school in Hong Kong without a permanent campus and has had to move three times in a decade.
Officials are willing to throw millions at foreign schools like Harrow, but why will they not support a home-grown success story like Montessori, which is committed to cross-cultural bilingual education? There are plenty of empty school sites the hostel could use instead.
Michelle Leung, Siu Sai Wan
Baffling school snub sure to alienate expats
As a long-time Hong Kong resident with two daughters attending the International Montessori School, it is simply shocking to me that the Hong Kong government would even consider a local youth hostel site over that of a blooming international school with one of Hong Kong's best Putonghua/English bilingual programmes.
Hong Kong is a vibrant city and offers me and my family many opportunities. Yet the potential loss of the Montessori school's Tin Hau campus, coupled with Hong Kong's problematic shortage of spaces in international schools, makes me question those opportunities.
If we can't ensure a stable, high-quality education for our children, then we need to look elsewhere.
There are certainly enough attractive cities in Asia that do support their international communities and the educational needs of their children.
Officials should give close consideration to this matter.
Erica Pompen, Happy Valley
Big-bag curbs trial still being weighed
I refer to the letter by Rico Lee ("Unparalleled flop of border baggage limit", October 13), regarding the trial the MTR Corporation introduced recently to restrict the weight of luggage carried on the East Rail Line.
The MTR strives to provide a comfortable and safe travelling environment for our passengers.
Our Conditions of Carriage of Luggage restrict passengers to each bring in only one piece of luggage (providing that the size does not exceed 170cm in total dimension and the length of any one side does not exceed 130cm).
However, we observed that while some luggage met the size limit, if it was very heavy it could present a hazard to other passengers.
In view of this, and taking into account passengers' suggestions, we introduced the 32kg weight limit for luggage being brought into East Rail Line trains. In considering the limit, we looked into the weight restrictions of the travel industry and we believe that 32kg is reasonable. It can cater to the needs of ordinary passengers, while lowering risks to other MTR users.
We wish to point out that the new measure is aimed at ensuring smooth passenger flow and a comfortable travelling environment for all passengers. It is not targeted at any one specific group of travellers.
To help implement the trial and maintain order inside stations, we have also recruited more staff to patrol East Rail Line stations to enforce MTR by-laws.
We will review the effectiveness of the trial after three months.
We would like to thank your reader for his views and East Rail Line passengers for supporting the new measure.
Kendrew Wong, media relations manager, MTR Corporation Ltd
Priorities start at home in real estate market
Hong Kong residents admire the government of Singapore for its effective policies, especially when it comes to housing.
I cannot help noticing that countries like Singapore and Australia have regulations in place which impose restrictions on foreign ownership.
For example, in Australia (where there are no land shortage problems), second-hand residential properties can be sold only to Australian citizens unless an exception is granted by the Foreign Investment Review Board. For new residential projects, there are also restrictions regarding foreign nationals.
We all know that the crazy price rises in property in Hong Kong are caused by seemingly unlimited funds flooding in from over the border. Neither the Legislative Council nor the government has the guts to raise this issue or act against the property tycoons.
All we hear are excuses, for example that imposing restrictions on non-residents will destroy our free market.
We can draw lessons from Singapore and Australia. Their free markets have not been wiped out.
China would never sell all its rare earths to foreign firms, nor would Australia let its major mining companies come under foreign ownership. An effective and responsible government would not simply hand over its valuable assets for short-term gains.
There must be an investigation to determine why so many government policies are biased towards the property tycoons at the expense of other citizens.
Most Hongkongers must live in tiny and expensive flats while mainland investors are allowed to leave empty the apartments they have bought here.
W. Yam, North Point
Ode to ever more rare joys of free speech
I attended the entertaining talk by Irish novelist Colm Toibin, which was presented by City University's English department in conjunction with the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. The best part about the event is that it was free to the public.
The festival has been held in the city since 2001 and every year I see an increase in charges for events.
I am all for covering expenses laid out by organisers, but spending HK$300 to HK$400 for an event that is held at some fancy restaurant or private club just to take part is not practical.
I am sure there are many avid readers like myself in Hong Kong who would welcome more contacts with writers from all over the world at a reasonable cost.
To reach for a bigger audience, the literary festival organisers might need to rethink their fee structure and choose more appropriate venues.
Rosemary Kam, Sai Kung
Natural beauty is a healthy role model
In our consumer society where impossibly beautiful fashion models assault our senses on a regular basis, I wish to congratulate the French fashion house Céline for its recent advertisement showing a model without a trace of make-up.
That is the way most women look throughout the day - that is, those of us who are not neurotic and do not have to mask our faces with cosmetics on a daily basis.
That advert is such a refreshing change, one hopes it will also influence beauty parlours selling services promising eternal youth to women.
As we have sadly discovered recently, female vanity which extends to blood transfusions can end in tragedy.
Renata Lopez, Wan Chai
Don't blame men for female fashion fads
Surya Deva wrongly blames men for the beauty craze ("Women shouldn't buy into constructed idea of beauty", October 16).
I often tell female friends not to use make-up, which could damage their skin and cause premature ageing.
To insinuate that men as a whole are enforcing beauty standards on women in order to control them is a product of the thinking of certain extreme feminists.
The only men who could possibly be involved in such a conspiracy are those who stand to make a buck from it.
So leave me out of it, Surya Deva.
Jim Robinson, Wan Chai